How to approach meeting with Alumni

TheCityBoy's picture
Rank: Orangutan | 296

I recently found a financial analyst who works for a BB in London on our alumni database.

I sent him an email about asking for advice/assistance in breaking into the industry and his first response was suggesting to meet up for a coffee to talk if I could make it into London.

As it turns out, I am doing work experience in London in a few weeks time so that worked out well for me but my question is how would you go about approaching this? obviously I would like to use this contact as leverage to try and help me get a possible SA position next year

This is a new experience for me, obviously I wont immediately ask him to try and get me an interview, but that is the end goal

My plan was to just have general chat first about university life how he got into the BB, how he finds the job, general chit chat then follow up with an email a little later on perhaps asking for another meeting some time and then thats when I will start to inquire about assistance in getting an interview

what do you think? and how would you approach it?

Region: 
United Kingdom

Comments (21)

May 3, 2012

Ask him about his story, what he did in college, how he got interested in finance etc. They usually like to talk about themselves so let him do most of the talking. Remember what he says and the advice he gives you then follow up with an email the next day highlighting the things you found interesting so he knows you didn't waste his time. Ask for another meeting like you said, and ask about some of the positions available at his firm for a summer internship. IE what a SA does (even if you know the answer) and maybe ask if there is anything you can do to appear more attractive to a recruiter given your experience and your story.

May 3, 2012

I agree with Waymon regarding asking the alumnus about his story/the route he took to get into banking. I found that asking this showed you are interested in how someone that succeeded in breaking into banking and that is currently in the industry got there. I would follow that up briefly with your story and why you are so interested in banking and show that you know a little bit about it already and can relate what interests you to what an analyst/SA position student does.
I would advise not divulging to much information about the "university life" as you are obviously not familiar with what he may take as crossing the line and send a bad impression...unless ofcourse it is relevant to banking/finance (ie university finance club you were apart of).
Definitely send him and email the next day thanking him for his time and insight. Remember that he is probably busy so be careful when asking for another meeting and make sure if you do that you are not wasting his time and make sure to bring something more to the table rather than just having another chat with him.

May 3, 2012

Great advice people, thanks a lot. definitely have a few routes to take with this now

much appreciated

May 3, 2012

yeap go ahead. what do you have to lose?

May 3, 2012

Email first. If he doesn't answer call him.

May 3, 2012

Look around the boards a bit first, there's a lot of good info on cold emailing, i.e. times to email.

In my experience, it also helps to put your school in the subject line of the email so it catches their eye when they're going through their inbox.

Array

May 3, 2012

Email. Briefly introduce yourself and say you're interested in learning about his career path, firm, job, prospective summer positions, etc.

May 3, 2012

keep him on friendly terms and ask for the favor next year

May 3, 2012

Usually you still have to apply through OCR, but MDs/VPs mention your name to whoever reads resumes. That means they might spend a minute instead of 30 seconds reading your resume.

May 3, 2012

They usually direct you with a little extra recommendation (this assumes associate/analyst level recommendations, sometimes higher up as well), which essentially means that your name is I guess in the notice pile for the reviewers to take a harder look, and tip the scale in your favor for an interview. I mean does it guarantee an interview, nope, but it increases your chances, and in this market, increasing your chances every chance you can is definitely worth it. Sometimes a D or an MD or the like will have a bit more of a say, and may actually be able to pull an interview for you, first round, but in general, just assume it helps a little. Of course, if this is for a direct hire to a group, as opposed to a full analyst class, then a recommendation will usually help much more.

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May 3, 2012

I've found that if you know someone at the VP/D/MD+ level (especially D/MD+) if they know you personally, or really like you, as long as your resume doesn't have typos, 3.1 GPA, etc, they can get you a first round interview. The analyst reading the resumes probably doesn't want to explain to his MD why his nephew didn't get an interview without a REALLY good explanation.

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May 3, 2012

usually the banks will have alumni from your school reading the resumes from your school since they know how hard each major is, how much the GPA is inflated in each major, which clubs/activities are bs, etc.

so chances are either your alumni friend or one of his friends in the bank from your school will be selecting 1st rd interview candidates. so yeah, it definitely will help you get that initial interview

May 3, 2012

it depends on how active they are in the process... i met a decent amount of people during my junior year trying to land something... some people told me to forward a resume to HR and nothing happened... others called me up and said i had a phone interview later in the week... it all depends on the person, how they like you, how far they are willing to go for you, if they are regularly part of the recruiting process, etc

best advice for a kid in your shoes (ie me last year lol) is to keep at it, ask your contacts if they can put you in touch with hr so you can ask about the recruiting process, ask your contacts if they know anyone within the department you want to be in that is active in the recruiting process that can fast track you for an interview

May 3, 2012

I don't mean this to be a discouraging contact, but if the Alums you are talking about actually don't know how to pass along your resume to the proper people, I think that is a REALLY bad sign.

Most hires that occur not directly out of undergrad or B school come from some kind of connections, be it alumni, former colleague or family member/friend. Political machine, no doubt, but also a reality. Typically if it is an alumni contact that you have proactively reached out to, they should ask to have a call or meet you for coffee informally to determine if they feel comfortable enough to pass you on. I know that in our alumni database, we have the option to search for 'level' meaning we can search 'MD and higher' or 'VP' or 'Executive' etc. It is only senior management that is going to make the decisions, and generally HR gets their 'first call backs' from these sr mgmt referrals, so it makes sense to try and target these alumni first, if you have the ability.

Generally after one meeting on an informal basis (which you should prepare and take seriously, and go to impress even though informal in person or on phone) if they like you and think you won't make them look bad, they will pass you and your resume along to someone else - NOT typically HR yet, but often the 'Head of XYZ' department you said you were interested in. HR may get involved for the scheduling of informational or more formal interviews at this time, if said head determines your resume looks interesting - combined with endorsement from your alum connection.

Speaking from experience, I have gotten every job I have had through using my alma mater's alumni network. It is an extremely powerful and helpful tool. It is often underutilized...that said, you need to do your homework and prioritize what you want to do, where, who you are talking to, and know their history before you get on the phone or meet with them.

Generally alumni on the networks WANT to be helpful, and probably put their name up there for a reason, as they were probably helped by someone when they were young and so goes the circle of life. HR is fine, but you are going to be one of a million in an 'everyone here is impressive' stack. If you really want to gain an advantage, you should lean on your alum network and make sure you make an impression enough for them to want to go to bat for you.

As for one of your other questions- the alum does not need to be in the specific group you are interested in. As long as you are able to articulate your interests clearly and which group you want to be a part of, they should be able to connect you to the right person of a similar level in that group.

May 3, 2012
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May 3, 2012